Google has launched the next version of Android, 4.4 KitKat. We’ve known for awhile now what the operating system would be called, but now we have all the details behind the new features and improvements in this update.
There are a couple of major things that Google is aiming to do in 4.4, the first of which is making Android accessible to more phones. KitKat is designed to be faster and more responsive, but it’s also designed to reduce the amount of memory required to run smoothly. Google is including entry-level devices with “as little as” 512mb of RAM. The different components of the operating system have also been streamlined to be more memory-efficient.
Secondly, Android 4.4 features a number of changes that should make the whole operating system, along with Google’s slew of services, feel more integrated. Search has been integrated into the new dialer — so when you’re searching for a contact, you can just as easily type in the word “pizza” and get a number of search results from restaurants nearby. Google Now should now be more easily accessible via a swipe from the left to the right, as well as the “Ok, Google” voice command introduced with the Moto X.
Another change you’ll see is that the standard Messages app has been dropped in favor of Google’s own Hangouts app. Hangouts was recently updated with SMS support and location sharing, so it might actually improve the messaging experience its replacing. If you don’t like Hangouts, you can also now set your own default SMS app in KitKat.
Android 4.4 KitKat is available alongside the new Nexus 5 and it’s coming to a number of other devices shortly after. For a full round-up of all the changes brought by KitKat, check out the official page.